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tv   CBS Evening News With Scott Pelley  CBS  June 6, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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evening news is coming up next >> the latest >> pelley: tonight a union- fighting governor survives an attempt to put him out of work. is there a message for the nation? >> voters really do want leaders who stand up and make the tough decisions. >> pelley: reports from dean reynolds, nancy cordes, and john dickerson. brian rooney on california voters cutting pension benefits for city workers. why a major metropolitan area is facing a growing threat from wildfires. bill whitaker is there. and steve hartman "on the road"- - a widow's journey to discover her husband's heroism on this anniversary of d-day. >> reporter: how many years did you wait? >> all my life. captioning sponsored by cbs this is the "cbs evening news" with scott pelley.
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>> pelley: good evening. it happened smack in the middle of america and rocked the political landscape coast to coast, the republican governor of wisconsin, scott walker, survived an attempt to throw him out of office. in a rare recall election last night, he defeated his democratic challenger mayor tom barrett of milwaukee by seven points, 53% to 46. walker took on labor unions, becoming a villain to them but a hero to many taxpayers. the question tonight is what this vote in a key swing state may mean for the presidential election. our coverage begins with dean reynolds with governor walker in wisconsin. >> reporter: governor, there's a lot of talk about how this race had national implications, and i'm wondering what you think about it. >> well, i think the biggest thing goes beyond just november. it really goes to the heart of how people govern after the november elections. i think the message voters sent for wisconsin across the country and around the globe was voters
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are serious when they say they want their leaders to take on tough decisions. >> reporter: governor walker's most controversial stand came last year when he and the legislature stripped most bargains rights from unions representing government workers. it sparked huge protests, but exit polls of voters on tuesday showed half the state agreed with him. now, you stood up to liberals. you stood up to labor unions. you stood up to big government types. is there a lesson for governor romney in that philosophy? >> oh, i think so. again, i think people across america, certainly in my state, understand that america's at a tipping point, and that we can't sustain the kind of unprecedented growth we have right now in the federal government. and if the governor were to come in and talk specifically about what he's going to do, the risk he's willing to take to turn the country around, i think that will be compelling. >> reporter: huge sums of money flowed into the state to support both sides in the election. walker raised $30 million since taking office last year, and $18
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million more came from out-of- state donors, much of it since the recall election was scheduled. how do you assure people that you are not beholden to these interests from out-of-state that poured money into your campaign? >> in the last case, in the last report are we showed more than 70% of our donations came from people giving us $50 bucks, or less. >> reporter: do you think you could have won without the financial assistance you got? >> i don't know. >> reporter: you've been raising money since you took office, really. >> and part of it is, people look back to last february, the big union bosses poured millions of dollars in attacking my reforms. attacking my reforms not me. most people in wisconsin want to move on. we want the ads to go to florida and ohio and other places and not be stuck here. >> reporter: the governor also told us he felt a certain percentage of voters were simply opposed to recall elections. and, scott, our exit polls found 60% of them believe recall
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elections should occur only in cases of official misconduct. >> pelley: dean, thanks for that. unions were evaluating this loss. gerald mcentee, the president of the leading public employees union said, "even with this loss, wisconsin's voters have sent a clear message that attacks on workers' rights will not go unchallenged. working families may not win every fight but this struggle is it far from over." the wisconsin battle also was a preview of how much money is changing politics these days. donations flooded into the state on both sides. the recall election may have cost more than $75 million, and about half of that came from outside wisconsin. a lot of it from wealthy individuals. we asked nancy cordes to look into that. >> reporter: democrats like to say mayor barrett didn't stand a chance against governor walker's money. his $30 million war chest dwarfed barrett's $4 million
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million thanks to a 25-year-old wisconsin law that allows office holders facing a recall to raise unlimited funds. houston home builder bob perry and las vegas casino mogul, sheldon adelson, who have given millions to superpacs, each gave walker $250,000. billionaire diane hendricks gave him $500,000. money from outside groups helped both candidates. democratic groups spent $15 million on ads and the get out of vote efforts, $8 million of that came from unions, four of it from the government workers' union. of the 18 million republican groups spent, nine of it kim from the republican governor's association, three million from americans for prosperity, a group backed by the billionaire brothers charles and david koch. >> you have to have a ground game that matches the left door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood. >> reporter: tim phillips runs americans for prosperity. beyond paying for ads, his group sent 75 staffers into wisconsin
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to knock on doors. >> they're now going back to states like florida and ohio and michigan and colorado, and they're going to keep doing the same grass-roots work, educating folks candidly on president obama's disastrous economic record and what folks can do about it. >> reporter: the heavy spending in this race shows that these large outside groups from both parties are increasingly interested in investing not just in the presidential race but in state races and congressional races, scott, where a few million dollars can make a big difference. >> pelley: thanks for the insight, nancy. so, scott walker becomes a republican star overnight. does this contest tell us anything about the presidential race? that is a question for john dickerson, our cbs news political director tonight. john. >> when the obama campaign launched last year they outlined six different ways the president could win. in every scenario wisconsin was considered safe. now the obama team says it's a battleground where they're going to have to spend money and precious time.
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republicans showed in the walker effort that they've gotten good at the door-to-door business of turning out supporters. if they can do the same thing in the ten other battleground states that will challenge an obama advantage but the president's approval rating in the state is above 50%, a sign of health, and the unemployment rate is 6.7% and dropping. exit polls showed last night that obama has a seven-point lead over romney. other polls show the same thing. both campaigns stayed away from wisconsin during the recall but now we'll see in how many ads they run and state visits they make just how seriously romney wants to fight for wisconsin or how much the president feels he needs to defend. >> pelley: the core issue in wisconsin-- whether states can afford the wages and benefites of union workers-- was also at play last night in california. there voters overwhelmingly decided that pensions for retirees, including cops and firefighters, should be cut, and brian rooney has more on that.
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>> reporter: it was a blowout in both san diego and san jose where employees will have to pay up to 16% more out of their salaries or accept smaller retirement checks. mayor chuck reed ran for reelection on a promise of pension reform. >> in the first year of implementation it will save about $25 million. that number will go up every year for about 40 years. >> reporter: more than enough to dig the city out of deficit. in san diego, employees will be forced into a personal 401(k) stock plan instead of a guaranteed pension. that city pays $231 million a year towards pensions, 20% of its general budget. in san jose, 27% of the budget goes to pensions. the city built libraries they can't fill with books and a police station they can't open because there isn't enough money. san jose police detective michael wittington said he
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doesn't make enough money and paying to much for benefits. >> i put off having a family. i put off buying a home. i had to short sell my home two years ago. >> reporter: right now, san jose contributes an amount equal to half whittington's salary to his pension. >> i'm not going to lie-- it's been very stressful for us. >> reporter: leaders in other cities have been watching closely. public pensions in california have a shortfall of more than $400 billion. these are not only cities to vote on pension reform, but they are among the biggest, and they may encourage others to try. scott, it is not easy. some of these benefits are locked in by law, and already this morning, the unions in san jose announced they're going to sue to stop yesterday's vote. >> pelley: thank you very much, brian. overseas tonight, we are now getting reports of a new massacre in syria where the assad dictatorship is out to crush a popular uprising. activists claim that police and pro-government militias killed dozens today in the city of hama, a center of the rebellion. 12 days ago, more than 100
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people, mostly women and children, were shot and hacked to death in the town of houla. vicious fighting is spreading to the capital damascus, and our elizabeth palmer is there. >> reporter: syria's armed opposition has been a motley collection of poorly armed military defectors and local volunteers but there is evidence these fighters are getting more deadly. take this video posted online by activists of an attack three days ago in syria's north. the fighters destroyed syrian tanks but rather than a simple hit and run, they then dragged soldiers from the burning vehicles and took them prisoner. the number of well-organized operations showing up online is growing, and one armed group this week has said it's going to concentrate its attacks on military checkpoints in the cities. so soldiers on guard around damascus are feeling the pressure while u.n. military observers visited a makeshift
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army post in the suburbs yesterday, local residents told us that most nights, rebel fighters and the army trade fire in these streets and alleys, leaving civilians trapped in the cross-fire. >> pelley: elizabeth palmer is joining us now from damascus. liz, from your story, i take it there's more rebel activity now all around the capital city. >> reporter: until very recently, damascus was this rather surreal little bubble of stability and normality. well, no more. last night for the first time i heard both explosions and gunfire through the open window of my downtown hotel. people are saying that the houla massacre marked a turning point, not only in international condemnation of syria, but also in the amount of violence and how close it's getting to the very heart of the capital. people are really scared. they feel catastrophe is approaching and they just don't know how to sidestep it. >> pelley: liz, thank you very much. wildfires ignite a debate over how to fight them.
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the biggest piece of tsunami debris to reach the united states. and a piece of space history reaches its new home when the "cbs evening news" continues. carry on you protectors... you collectors... you thieves... and start of the day embracers... we get it. after all, kenmore is in the lives of over 100 million americans. that's why no brand in america gives you more of the capacity you need. we put more in, so you get more out. kenmore.
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mexico has ever seen. it's burned 400 square miles in the gila national forest. there has long been a debate about whether letting fires burn is in the long run is healthier for the forest. bill whitaker has found in most forests today that is not an option anymore. >> reporter: few structures are threatened in new mexico's gila national forest so firefighters are following u.s. forest service policies-- they're letting the fire burn through remote wilderness. it's nature's way of removing dense underbrush and renourishing the forest, but as development out west pushes deeper into woodlands this kind of fire management is the exception not the rule. >> the angeles national forest and all the other southern california forests we're not allowed to let fires burn. >> reporter: james hall is the acting fire chief of the angeles national forest, pressed against the suburban sprawl of los angeles. >> our policy is to suppress those fires on the national forest so they don't get into those communities. >> reporter: in the 1990s, some
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60% of new houses in the u.s. were built in forested areas. in california alone, more than six million houses are in wild areas. after more than a decade of drought, fire danger out west will be red hot this summer. >> this is called a sumac bush and when a fire hits it, it explodes. >> reporter: richard brown owns topanga brush clearing, his crews work year round cutting the stuff that feed wildfires away from houses. here in los angeles, homeowners are required to clear away brush from within 100 feet of their houses but in wild areas like this, often that's not enough. in 2009, 89 houses were destroyed when wildfire raced out of the angeles national forest and through l.a. suburbs. fire conditions are similar now but california has 730 fewer firefighters. the cash-strapped state has cut $80 million from its wildfire budget since january the of last year. >> sometimes there's nothing you can do depending on conditions. >> reporter: so when you live in
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an area like this, you're taking a risk? >> definitely. >> reporter: as the western population grows, so does the chance of disasters like this. bill whitaker, cbs news, los angeles. >> pelley: we've been talking about this picture in the newsroom all day. it comes from oregon, where a large dock is drawing crowds. it washed ashore near newport, and most people figured that it was part of the debris swept out to sea by last year's tsunami in japan. the large placard with japanese writing was a giveaway, and today the japanese government confirmed it did come from the tsunami. he took to us faraway planets and taught us lessons about our own society. remembering ray bradbury next.
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>> pelley: we got word today that ray bradbury died in los angeles. bradbury, who was 91, was the great american writer of science fiction. in the 1950s with the launch of space travel, ray bradbury's imagination took flight. "the martian chronicles," "the illustrated man," "something wicked this way comes," science fiction, that subject of pulp novels, became literature, required in high school and college, decades after they were published. "farenheit 451" is among the most enduring, which is ironic because it's about the destruction of books. in the society dreamed up by
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bradbury and made into a movie, firemen start fires, burning books at 451 degrees. the novel was a reflection of the anxieties of the cold war. many of bradbury's works were morality tales, played out amid rockets, robots, and alien worlds. his writing foresaw the ipod, the cell phone, and wall-sized tvs. >> i'd love to live to be 101 so i can finish 30 or 40 more books and three or 400 more short stories and an opera and several plays. there isn't enough time, and i want more. >> pelley: he did a lot with the time he had had. he turned out 11 novels and more than 600 short stories. and somewhere in orbit around the sun there is an asteroid named bradbury. here on earth, a space shuttle prototype named after the starship "enterprise" from "star trek" completed its final journey today to its new home in new york. carried by barge past the statue of liberty and lower manhattan.
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nasa used "enterprise" for testing but it never flew in space. a crane lowered it on the flight deck of the u.s.s. "intrepid" where it will begin its new mission as a museum piece. a decades-long search for an american airman comes to a surprising end. "on the road" with steve hartman is next. ...more talk on social security... ...but washington isn't talking to the american people. [ female announcer ] when it comes to the future of medicare and social security,
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>> pelley: on this anniversary of d-day, we continue our story of one of the american soldiers who fought to liberate france from the nazis, first lieutenant billie harris. as we told you last night, it took his widow six decades of battling bureaucracy to learn his fate. but it turns out his death was just the beginning of an amazing tale. here again is steve hartman with "on the road," in normandy, france. >> reporter: it's now been 67 years since the liberation of france but at today's d-day ceremony in normandy, there was one woman who is still in mourning. in fact, until recently, peggy harris of vernon, texas, didn't even know her husband, billie, was buried here, and certainly didn't know the story i'm about to tell you. billie was a fighter pilot shot down and killed in july of '44
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over nazi-occupied northern france but because of a series of snafus, miscues and miscommunications, that information never got to his wife. as far as she knew billie was just missing. how many years did you wait? >> all my life. >> reporter: peggy never remarried, never moved on, and might never have known the whole story if a relative hadn't looked into his military records a few years ago. the surprise wasn't that he died. peggy had come to assume that. it was what came after. here in the tiny normandy town of les ventes, the main road is called place billie d. harris, the same road townspeople have been marching down three times a year for the past 60 years in part to commemorate his sacrifice. how much does billie mean to them? just listen to the mayor's voice
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when she gets to reading his name on the monument. ( voice breaking ) >> reporter: that's how much. >> hello, peggy. >> reporter: and by extension that admiration now goes to his wife. >> so happy to see you again. >> reporter: since learning her husband crashed near here, peggy has been making an annual pilgrimage. she visits the nearby woods where the plane went down, escorted by 91-year-old guy serlot, the only witness still living. he said, "billie was able to maintain control of the plane, despite his condition, and avoid the village." a hero in death. at first they buried billie in their local cemetery, covering his grave with flowers knee deep, even after his body was moved to the american cemetery at normandy, the town continued to take flowers to his grave. >> how can i not be grateful and hold these people very dear? >> reporter: the people of les ventes say they wish they could have done more. "if only i was able to help" guy said.
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to which peggy responded, "you did." >> i would like to think he was still conscious enough to know that a friend stood by him. and that this man was that friend. >> reporter: her gratitude is matched only by theirs. in les ventes, the american sacrifice is still very much treasured and honored. >> so we don't forget. >> they don't forget. >> reporter: and now that we know the story... >> they don't forget.
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>> good evening talk about labor pains. unions are reeling from a pair of crushing blows at hands of the california electorate. >> did san diego and san jose get the attention of sacramento? >> i am not sure yet. it certainly got my attention. >> the governor reacting to the vote that could set the stage for statewide change. voters in san jose and san diego spoke loud and clear yesterday overwhelmingly approving sweeping public pension reforms in their cities. >> but that could just be the beginning. phil matier spoke of the governor who is now promising to tackle pension reform before november. >> that is right, on the statewide level for state

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